Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Progress is Perfect

On Saturday, we marked 7 weeks since our return from China with Li'l Empress in our arms. To say that we have all been on a roller-coaster ride of learning and adjusting would be the understatement of the year. However, I fear that the last couple posts only gave you a partial view of all we've been learning and experiencing. The hard stuff of adjusting to our "new normal." Here's a peek at some of the really fun progress we've seen as the Gang has become 7 strong.

Li'l Empress has made tremendous strides in overcoming some of her self-soothing behaviors. When we first got her, we noticed quickly that she would scratch her head almost to the point of tearing her scalp when she was stressed, over-tired, or uncertain. The kids and I made a special trip to W*l-M*rt our first week home and purchased this. It's made a tremendous difference in comforting herself. She's not totally at the point of actually sleeping with it yet, but "wubby" is a regular part of our nap and night-time routine now and a great substitute for the painful scratching.

With our choice to practice attachment parenting, one of our goals is to model to Li'l Empress that we are always going to be here for her. That we will never leave her. She's had a lot of leaving in her little life already. (Much more on that in a future post. Trust me, you'll want to come back for that one! I just have to process what I've been learning and summarize it accurately for our family "journal" here.) This consistency and focused method of trust-building and bonding will help pave the way for the message that she is unconditionally loved and accepted. It's been our experience with our other kids, and continues to be our prayer, that it will pave the way for her to learn trust in her family and later, as she grows, in her Father God. In the process of that, it is strongly recommended that the primary care-givers be the ones to meet all her most basic needs. And that she always be in the care of one of us who will be her forever family. Yesterday, Momma took a huge step forward in leaving Li'l Empress with Aunt L and the cousins. It was only an hour and a half, and was much harder on me than it was on her. But it was progress for us all around. Aunt L, Uncle P, and the cousins will always be her family. It's vitally important that we allow her to build trust with them.

While Li'l Empress was being completely spoiled by Auntie L and the cousins, I got to dip my foot back into the pools of school activities. Baby BlueEyes begged me to be a mom-volunteer at Clifford's Birthday Bash for RIF. It was a great time and reminded me of just why I love our local elementary school. And BBE knew just where to get me: anything that promotes the love of reading is right up my alley. I had a great time and I know he was thrilled to have his Momma around for the morning. The progress there was tangible proof to BBE that our "new normal" is about all of us getting our heart-felt needs met. He just beamed all morning long!

The Gang has been busy teaching Li'l Empress all kinds of fun things. Of course, you all know she's walking now. And recently started "dancing" by swaying back and forth either when she's sitting or standing. Makes me a little nervous that she's trying to do it now when she's actually walking, but it's part of learning! And this week, I noticed that she's even attempting to run a bit. OY! Here's a quick list of some other things that we are sure she knows now, in just 7 weeks:
  • "Where's your nose?"
  • "Where's your ears?"
  • "Where's your belly button?"
  • "Excuse me" (our family sign motion when she burps)
  • "Hot!"
  • Baby signs for: please, thank you, eat, more, all done, and milk
  • Her first English word was her biggest brother's name, which eternally secured her spot in the deepest recesses of his "too cool for words" teen-age heart
  • "Wow" - comes out "Bow" but it's still adorable
We've also discovered that she really enjoys a few minutes of creativity occasionally. LadyBug and BBE are always begging to color, and many times she's just stood there watching them. So I took our OT's suggestion and set Li'l Empress up with her own art station. She seems pretty ambidexterous right now, and when she's got both fists full of crayons, she's VERY focused!

Finally, another fun bit of progress that we've made is that Li'l Empress appears to be making the connection between her Chinese name and her new American name. We have many pictures of her posted up on our fridge from our long wait for her. She loves to point to them and say "Wawa." (That is the Chinese word for "baby.") After about a week of her pointing and saying this, I started pointing at the picture, saying "Wawa" and pointing at her, saying her American name, followed by her Chinese name. After a couple days of watching "the light go on" for her, I added the question, "Who's my Wawa?" and answered it by tapping her chest and saying her two names together. Now, she points to the pictures, says "Wawa" and points to herself and repeats "Wawa." Her name is a hard one for a baby to say, but I think that's pretty good logic and connection.

I can hardly believe she's 15 months old already. She's growing and changing so quickly and I feel so blessed to be able to so many of her firsts. Having a baby in the house with older kids provides hours of entertainment and we are thoroughly enjoying how quickly she picks up things - literally like a little sponge, just soaking up all the atmosphere around here. From dancing when Shaggy practices drums down in the basement to the funny faces she makes when she's filling her diaper, life with The Gang is never dull. Always progressing. And just perfect for this happy Momma!


Salzwedel Family said...

Wow! I can't believe it's been 7 weeks. I'm glad things are falling into place with the Li'l Empress.

Heidi @ GGIP said...

I also was surprised to hear you say you've been back for 7 weeks.

She sounds like she is doing great! I'm glad she likes coloring, that is such a great activity for kids.

Brittany Ray said...

Wow!! What a fabulous post. It's so hard to believe what these amazing girls can do when given lots of love and a forever family. Truly Li'l Empress impressed us with her sharpness and charm while in China, and your reports indicate a mighty smart little gal.

Britt and Bayley

Becki said...

I am crying tears of joy as the attachment of your daughter is going well. The changes you will see in her in the next year will be so remarkable. Sit back and watch the Lord touch your hearts like your daughter has touched you.

Aus said...

WOW - signing at 15 months is OUTSTANDING - ya'll have a sharp one on your hands - hope you are ready for that!

As for the rest - want further proof of why we love you guy - go re-read what you just wrote!

Looking forward to reading your additional on attached parenting - yeah - you guys are cool!

hugs -

aus and family

David and Sarah said...

What a treasure! Congratulations on a beautiful 7 weeks.

Elissa said...

How fun to read how quickly the Lil Empress is progressing! You will love looking back on this post. I think I would have forgotten some of the things Lily overcame so quickly had I not written them down (she did the heartbreaking scratching to self-soothe thing too). Our God heals His babies!